An enticing home, one that grabs your attention as you walk by, is often described as having “curb appeal.” The phrase can be applied to houses in pretty much any style or design, but all have this in common: They make people stop and stare.
Perhaps the home is a storybook cottage with swooping rooflines and a turret straight out of “Hansel and Gretel,” or maybe it’s a polychromed Victorian in a rainbow of tones. Sometimes it’s not the house at all, but the garden that causes cars to slow down and drivers to lean out their windows and point. With my house in Seattle, it’s been a bit of all three: The turreted house, in a colorful paint scheme, is nicely complemented by landscaping that was carefully coordinated to match my home’s bold hues, resulting in a cohesive—and attractive—whole. But it wasn’t always this way.
When I bought the house two decades ago, it was covered in white vinyl siding, the yard was full of dead grass, and planting beds were littered with broken bottles. Over the years, I’ve transformed the early 1900s Craftsman into my dream house, a high-style Queen Anne Victorian, adding a turret, sunflower and griffin carvings on the upper gables, and roof cresting created from a late-1800s cemetery fence. After I painted the house in a late-19th-century fall palette of deep green, burgundy, black, copper, and gold—a combination derived from period sourcebooks of popular Victorian house paint colors—I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I came home one afternoon to find a wedding party posing on my front steps. Creating a garden to complement my fanciful grande dame was a major undertaking.